The word “stress” has been an active part of our vocabulary for so many years, but what does it really mean?
Authorities have attributed 80% of diseases to stress. Ayurveda believes disease is a condition where the mind and body separate. We all have inner intelligence that guides us through life, but when we are busy, we just don’t hear our own voice. The voice that tells us to rest more, relax, to not eat so much junk food, get a massage, avoid a certain relationship, travel more, learn something new, and so on. The voice of intelligence is in every cell of our body, watching, listening, and speaking to us.
The mind follows what we feed it, physically and mentally. Stress starts at this level and moves into the body, then manifests as symptoms. The symptoms become diseases, illnesses, and syndromes with long, daunting names. We search for remedies to calm the rapidly increasing red flags, but really the cause of them began from a source of internal disconnection.
Let’s look at the pattern of stress.
Our bodies are made of different layers, or sheaths, like an onion; at the center resides the pure consciousness. The layer around the center is called the bliss sheath, which is covered with another layer of intellectual sheath, then finally comes the mental sheath. Each layer has its own important function and unique role.
The center serves as a place to find the true, unchangeable self.
The intellectual sheath connects the mind to the heart and filters out the negative thoughts by connecting to the soul.
The mental sheath is where we can fully experience emotions and senses.
As Buddhism mentions, it is at this origin that stress commences.
The intellectual layer tries to rid of the inner chatter that holds pessimism and harmful messages. The mental layer, which works as a protective barrier, tries to act as an observer. At this moment, we have the freedom to choose to fully experience emotions or just remain as a bystander and not get involved. Depending on our personality and upbringing, we choose a route that will produce the least amount of pain and the most familiarity for us.This is where we might get into trouble, not choosing the right route for the situation. Some events in life need to be fully experienced to teach us a lesson and help us evolve. Therefore, we cannot avoid each and every emotion, no matter how difficult.
The mind is always in a protective mode to keep us in balance, so when situations overwhelm the mind, it overreacts to circumstances. Every little event around us becomes a large mountain. In order to deal with this hardship, we learn to avoid truly dealing with our feelings and attach to what we call unhealthy habits. We start seeking love in the wrong places, expecting others to do favors in return, looking for fairness in all situations, or using alcohol and drugs to become numb.
Instead we start experiencing disappointment, sadness, anger, envy, guilt, rejection, mistreatment, and abuse. The effect of this emotional roller coaster on the physical body overtime becomes symptoms like: indigestion, acid reflux, insomnia, muscle ache, headaches, anxiety, depression, and specific phobias. Our physical body can handle stress well for a short period of time, by releasing the right hormones to keep us safe. However, once the duration of this journey becomes long-term, the body starts looking at this experience as a normality. This is the beginning of chronic illnesses at the physical and emotional state.
How can we prevent stress from causing diseases?
Let’s learn how to let go of emotions and not react to every situation.
Let’s be present and not worry so much about the future.
Let’s connect with our higher power or our own intuition to guide us in life.
Let’s start a daily routine of rituals to reconnect us with our center.
Let’s enroll in a yoga or meditation class.
Let’s get some professional help to get back on track.
Receiving assistance is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of immense self-love.